Saturday, June 30, 2018

June 2018 Reads

Hi friends! A bit of a slower reading month for me.  June gets a little crazy with the end of school and preparations for vacation, but I still got in some really good ones this month.  Here's the recap:

The Good Pilot, Peter Woodhouse - Alexander McCall Smith - historical fiction - five stars - I do love Alexander McCall Smith.  This was a quick, sweet book about a woman who is working as a Land Girl in England during WWII - they sent women out to the country to help farmers as all the farm hands went to war, kind of a rural Rosie the Riveter.  Anyway, she is working near an airbase and meets a US aviator, Mike.  Much of the book is focused on their relationship as well as their relationship to a stray dog, Peter Woodhouse.  Mike is shot down in Holland (with Peter Woodhouse who becomes a mascot for the airmen) and manages to survive in hiding until the end of the war.  He is befriended by a German soldier named Ubi.  The second part of the book deals with the lives of Val, Mike and Ubi after the war.  A sweet and bittersweet story that I didn't want to put down.

Red Sparrow - Jason Matthews - fiction - five stars - I love a good spy/action movie, and I've seen trailers for the Red Sparrow movie, but since I knew it was a book, I wanted to read that first.  I'm not sure why I thought it took place back in the Cold War, but it doesn't, which I thought was really interesting.  It's more of a current day plot which made it even more interesting because some of the things that they talk about seem so old school, i.e. Sparrow school where women learn how to set honey traps/seduce targets.  It was a pretty complex plot line, lots of different people and moving parts, and definitely some surprises as well.  I enjoyed it, and there are two more books in the series which I'll be reading as well.  Not sure if I'm going to watch the movie at this point, I feel like I'm likely to be disappointed/annoyed at how it is shown as I think it would be very difficult to show all the complexity/nuance in a movie.

Framed! (T.O.A.S.T. Mystery #1) - James Ponti - juvenile fiction - five stars - This was an Ellie directed read.  She got this for her birthday last year, but hadn't gotten around to reading it, and she loved it.  It's a little bit like the Spy School series although I would say slightly older/more sophisticated.  Florian Bates is a kid who just moved to the DC are who has a very developed observational skill.  This allows him to help the FBI solve a crime at the National Gallery of Art (where his mom work).  I really liked the characters.  It was a fun and quick read.

Vanished! (T.O.A.S.T. Mystery #2) - James Ponti - juvenile fiction - five stars - This is the sequel to Framed! and just as good.  Ellie had me borrow it for her as soon as she had completed the first book (we are excited that there is a third book coming out later this year).  In this book Florian and his best friend are sent undercover to an exclusive private school in DC where the president's daughter also happens to attend.  There are pranks being played and he is supposed to determine who is involved.  In doing so he gets to know the first daughter and becomes involved in a kidnapping case as well.

The Invention of Wings - Sue Monk Kidd - historical fiction - five stars - This is my first book from Kidd and I really enjoyed it.  I love that it was loosely based on a real person, Sarah Grimke, born into a well to do slave owning family in South Carolina who later became an outspoken abolitionist and Quaker.  The story revolves around her and a fictional slave, Handful, she was given at eleven.  The story is told from both Sarah and Handful's perspectives and kept me riveted.  I'm definitely planning to read more from Kidd.

Where the Past Begins: A Writer's Memoir - Amy Tan - memoir - 2 stars - I was so disappointed by this book. I have read and enjoyed everything Amy has written, so when I read jacket cover description of the book I was excited to learn more about Amy's life/history.  To me most of the problem here was essentially false advertising.  There are snippets about Amy's life included, but a lot of this is long winded discourse about the process of writing itself.  I had a really hard time getting through it.  This was one I read for the better part of the month off and on sprinkling some of my other books in to break it up.

The Final Race: The Incredible World War II Story of the Olympian Who Inspired Chariots of Fire - Eric T. Eichinger and Eva Marie Everson - biography - four stars - So I have to admit that I have never seen Chariots of Fire and only know of Eric Liddell as the guy who was portrayed in the movie (this is a bit of a travesty to my track athlete/coach husband....and it truly is on my list of things to watch).  I saw this book on the new shelf in the library and thought I ought to educate myself.  I really enjoyed reading about Eric - the book talks about his athletic career, but focuses more on the rest of his life - that that was just something he was really good at, but his true calling was to be a missionary to China.  He sacrificed much to fulfill his calling, and was in China and interned in a camp there during WWII.  The book recounts stories and anecdotes from others who were there with him, and his truly humble and giving personality comes through in volumes.  I almost gave this one five stars, but the writing was a little clunky for me and that's the only reason it was downgraded a bit, but a very good read.  

How about you guys?  I'm always looking for recommendations!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Technique Tuesday Strawberries and Giveaway

Hi friends!  Today I've got a card featuring the latest Greenhouse Society stamp set from Technique Tuesday. I just love strawberries, I have had them for breakfast everyday the last few weeks with my yogurt and granola.  

I started by stamping and coloring the image with Copics and then die cut it.

I love the fresh, summery image, and selected a couple of patterned papers that bring out the colors in the image as mats.  I also added machine stitching to give it a more homespun feel.

The thanks sentiment actually comes wired inside the coordinating die and was the perfect size/font to add to the card.  I cut it twice from dark gray cardstock and then layered the white over the top.  I think those dark layers help it to stand out a bit more.

I have a giveaway too!  The very generous folks at Technique Tuesday will send a stamp set and coordinating die set of their choice to one of my lucky blog readers.

To be entered, be a follower and leave a comment letting me know which stamp/die set from you would select.  You can see their full range here.

I'll announce a winner next week!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Spellbinders Nordic Blooms Dies

He everyone!  Today I'm working with Lene Lok's Nordic Blooms dies from her Folk Art collection for Spellbinders.  I used this set a couple months ago during Spellbinders' April blog hop and wanted to give it another whirl.

For this first card I wanted to get an inlaid wood effect.  I cut a panel of wood veneer paper in a cherry shade and then die cut my flowers and stems.  I also die cut the same pieces from my lighter birch veneer.  These lighter pieces were colored with Copics.  I love how the color is really toned down and muted when you do this.

Those pieces were then inlaid into the cherry panel.  I also very carefully used a light brown color to add a bit line of color around the edges of the panel and the inlaid images to set them off a bit, kind of how I will outline images with my C1 Copic marker when coloring with Copics.

The sentiment is from Altenew's Ditsy Print set.

Since I had those cherry veneer flower/stem pieces that were cut from the panel in the above card, I thought I should put them to good use.

Very simple and straightforward, I simply adhered the pieces to a panel of Rustic White cardstock, and then added a couple patterned paper mats (ages old BasicGrey Persimmon collection) and a sentiment (Neat & Tangled's So Many Sentiments set).

I think the wood veneer adds such a wonderful rustic feel to these dies!

I am actually giving away a set of these dies over on my Instagram account (@mprantner), so be sure to head over there to enter. 

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Altenew Leaf Canopy Set and Blog Hop Winner

Hey everyone!  I had grand plans, but didn't end up getting to create a card with the Leaf Canopy set for Altenew's June blog hop, so over the weekend, I made a point of getting it out.  

I love the versatility of this set!  I kept things simple here (I feel like I say that a lot these days), stamping aFrayed Leaf ink.background using both of the solid images and

Then I went in with three shades of green Prismacolor pencils and added shading to the leaves.  

I'm no expert at colored pencils and don't tend to use them on their own a ton, but I love being able to add detail and shading of stamped/colored images with them.  

The sentiment is from the Moroccan Mosaic stamp set and was just popped up with a small mat.

I also have a winner to announce from last week's release hop.

Congratulations to Nox!  Please email by 6/30/2018 with the subject line Altenew June 2018 Release Blog Hop Winner from Miriam's Blog to claim your prize.

*Affiliate Links below to Ellen Hutson and in post to Altenew

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

End of Year Cards for Teachers

I know a lot of you are already done with school, but we're not out until tomorrow!  It's been especially wild and crazy around here with end of school events since Ellie graduates from elementary school this year.  Her 'promotion ceremony' was yesterday evening.

Anyway, I needed some cards to go with gifts for our teachers.  I love the images from Waffle Flower's Pencil In set, but the sentiments in the set are on the smallish side, and just didn't convey how grateful we are for our teachers this year.  We really lucked out, they were the perfect teachers for our girls!

I pulled out this older set from Verve (which sadly is closing it's doors at the end of this month - I think pretty much all their inventory is gone, but it's worth a look-see as everything had been discounted 55% last I looked).  I just love the sentiments in this set and they paired perfectly with the Waffle Flower images.

This first card was super simple.  Just some simple Copic coloring on the little girl and boy, stamped sentiment, patterned paper mat, and done.

I wet a little more complicated for the second card.  I stamped the images from the Pencil In set in the center of my panel and colored them with Copics.

The sentiment from the Verve set was added above, and then I used a number stamp from the Verve set and Versamark ink to create some tone on tone patterned paper for the bottom panel.  

A thin strip of black cardstock finished things off.

Now I just need to write in these cards and wrap up the teacher gifts and tomorrow we'll officially be on summer break!  (And by we, I mean the kids and Andrew (who is a teacher) because, sadly, I still have to work.)  

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Great sale at Ellen Hutson This Weekend

Hey friends!  There is a big sale going on at Ellen Hutson this weekend.  30% off a special overstock category.  It's a pretty huge category too with over 60 pages of items.  A number of those are already on sale, so you get the 30% off on top of that.  This link will take you directly to the sale category.

I've linked up a few of my favorite items from the sale below, many of which I already own and love and some of which I may own very soon....

Here are a few photos of how I've used some of these items:

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